I was one of those who absolutely could not speak to my baby bump. I tried. I had read a lot about how moms-to-be must speak to their babies, and maybe even play music or sing a song. Believe me when I say that, but I just couldn’t do it. It just felt off to me. I was sure that once the baby arrived, I would be able to speak to him. But that did not work out as planned either. Which is funny, because people would pay to shut me up. I am quite the chatterbox. But I just had no success with talking to a new baby.
But a wee little baby in front of me, and I could not say a word. I did think about singing. But my voice is so horrid, I am tone deaf, and I cannot sing to save my life. So I guess, in some part of my brain, I was shying away from putting my child through the “painful” experience of hearing me sing.
I could take excellent care of him (or at least I would like to think so), and change his diapers and feed him, and even play with him, but there was absolutely no verbal communication. Plenty of hugs and kisses, but no chit chat. And I was bewildered by it. My husband was acing this whole hanging out the son thing, playing games, having fun conversations, and I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t.
Research done by Stanford University shows that talking to the baby helps them learn communication skills, and helps in brain development. It helps them learn to speak early, and this in turn have long lasting benefits well into their childhood, and adult life – confidence, interpersonal skills, and other such personality traits are developed.
Children are born communicators. Their mode of communication being crying to let us know how they feel. From the first week itself, we can hear different types of crying depending on what baby wants. If my baby was hungry, his tone of crying made it clear. If he was fussy and wanted cuddles, that was clear too, So now it was up to me to try to reach out and communicate with him.
A lot of the research I read on this said that no matter how awful you sound, babies love the sound of mom’s and dad’s voice – no matter how froggy and croaky it is. That was definitely good news to me. Through my reading, speaking to people, and my own experiences, I have come a long way now. It took a lot of conscious efforts, but has brought about great results.
Looking back, I realized we did have small conversations and fun when he’d try to push me away during those initial days of breastfeeding. The time when he had no idea that he was in fact pushing me away with his hands in an attempt to come closer to the breast.
Talking to A New Baby
Kisses and cuddles. I could see it made him happy, and he was reacting to me. Gurgles, murmurs, YIPPEE! This was going somewhere. And every time he responded, I was emboldened. This was encouraging, and I started to murmur back with ‘yes baby!’ or ‘okay, sunshine’ etc.
The thing is babies are intelligent, and even if they cant understand the words, they can understand the tone, and the emotions involved. I also noticed that making faces – angry, smiley, grumpy, frowny, – he was definitely registering. So even if you can’t talk, smile at them. I am a pro when it comes to goofy smiles and faces. The smiles brought his smiles out, and that encouraged me a lot.
My husband could easily elicit a response and I wanted that too. Repetition is key. If you are saying smile, keep saying and showing, and saying and showing, and on and on till bubs gets it. Trust me, it works.
Another thing I noticed was that he would watch my hands and gestures closely. So I tried nursery rhymes. Incy Wincey Spider is an easy one, and one which has a fair amount of movements, and he was paying close attention. So I rummaged my brain for all the nursery rhymes I knew once upon a time, and even Googled a few, and started rhyming it for him. I knew I had his attention. Once I realized he wasn’t repulsed by my nursery rhymes or voice, I started humming a few of my own rhymes.
Another thing that tipped me over to the other side was consoling him when he was upset, possibly because of gas and tummy ache. Him whining would pull at my heartstrings, and I would ask him to tell me what was going on, and if he is okay. Not that I got responses, but atleast it opened doors for me and made me more comfortable talking to him.